Humility in the Ugliest Car Ever!

exploring the world in “style”

I went to see my Mom for Mother’s Day today and took my cross stitching with me. It was nice to sit and reminisce while I worked. We talked about the olive-green monstrosity that our family lovingly dubbed the “Mount’in Car.”

Now I can’t tell you exactly what kind of car it was, but I can tell you it was a drab olive-green, a station wagon of some sort, and it sat an entire Girl Scout troop once going on a field trip.

There was a bench seat in front with the standard parallel bench seat behind. Then another two sitting back to back behind that. There was a door that opened across the tail end of it and if you sat in the rear-most seat, you got to ride backwards. One door, the passenger side door as it were, was smashed in just enough for that door to be rendered useless.


It was the ugliest car I’d ever seen.

And My Daddy paid 75.00 for it. He came home from work one day and announced his purchase to my mom and said they needed to go and see about this car, to make sure it was still parked where it was supposed to be; there seemed to be some confusion as to whether his frugal purchase was actually going to be there.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw the car and the gut-wrenching horror that I’d have to ride around in that thing. The car we loved to hate eventually became a car my mother loved—it sat so many people!

We had to have it towed home. I am not sure what all my Daddy had to do at the time to get that terrible monster of a car running; but we nicknamed it the “Mountain Car.” I am not even sure how we came up with that name, only that there could have been a thousand other ugly names perhaps more suitable.

I know the picture is blurry, but this is the only picture I am aware of that we still have of the Mountain Car as all five of us (me, back left and my three brothers and my sister) dressed up in our Easter Sunday finest posed with the beast.

The front passenger door you can see is ok, but the door behind that was crushed and this is the door that my middle-school aged self would have climbed out when Mom dropped me off at school, if it would have opened properly. Instead I had to crawl across to the driver’s side and take an embarrassing walk around the back of the tank of a car to the greeting stares of my classmates.

I begged her to please please just drop me off on the corner. Nope. Mom pulled up right in front of the school with a car full of kids and dropped me off right in front of the cool kids. God, I hope they don’t remember this as clearly as I do.

My mother did grow to love the car for the simple reason that we all fit comfortably and could spread out throughout the back, which probably cut down on the bickering between siblings as she drove. Friends had plenty of space too and it came in quite handy for Scouting expeditions.

We all grew to love the companionship and comradery, the experiences we shared as a large family on the road. I only remember breaking down once on the side of the road and hanging out with the strangers that lived there while we waited for my Uncle Mark to come and help my Daddy make the repairs.

We went everywhere in the Mountain Car. The most memorable experiences I had was when Dad would come home and say, “Load up, we’re going to look for deer.” Now this meant the same thing every time; we’d make the trek over to Morrow Mountain and drive slowly so that we could scan the woods for white-tailed deer. We’d stop the car and count any we could see. This was our way of having fun.

I remember seeing a great-horned owl swoop out of the trees and right up the windshield, wingspan as wide as the window. A family of skunks with their little black and white waddling babies crossing the road and climbing into a stump hole. A deer with a severed tongue hanging plump and pink from its mouth—Daddy found the Park Ranger to report this. We saw the tiny fawns with their spotted backs. Learned the term “button buck.”


We felt alive, there on that mountain, our olive-tank blending in with the trees.

Occasionally we’d hit the hiking trails for a bit, but the hiking adventures were usually a day of their own. Dad would select a kid or two for a day of hiking. I knew those trails well.

On the way to Morrow Mountain was a little dirt road that cut off a portion of our drive by a mile or so. It was a shortcut we termed the “Dukes of Hazzard road.” Dad drove quicker than a dirt road called for and we watched the dirt cloud swarm behind us, imagining that we, in our ghastly Mountain Car, were in the Dukes of Hazzard fleeing Roscoe and his “good ‘ol boys.”

We called him “Rosco Pico Train.” We really were “somethin,’” we thought.



I am not sure whatever happened to that car. I know my two sons have had similar stories with some of the questionably functional cars I have had; some costing me less than a month’s rent and purchased sight unseen. “Does it run?” was about all I’d ask. Humility, getting by. Getting to work no matter what, breaking down often…these are things a lot of kids today do not experience.

It is wonderful to ride around in a comfortable car, AAA on the ready, a button that sets the alarm or opens the doors. It is another thing altogether to pry open the groaning smashed door that Daddy finally got to open and slide across the bench seats to fight for window space and head out to explore the world as a family; no laptops, no cell phones, no tablets playing movies just to keep our minds busy and quiet.

We had each other.

And we stared out the windows counting cows or looking for deer. Who cared at all what the “cool kids” would think? I am sure they didn’t even know where the “Dukes of Hazzard road” was and that was their loss. The humility we learned in that car came in the form of grand adventure, and that was worth 75.00, for sure.


Follow My New Medium Publication!!
Don’t Miss Updates on Christina’s Poetry and Book Releases!

A Stunning Prose piece, Recurring Dreams Of a Happy Child

Of Water and other Dreamy Things

I  had the BIGGEST IMAGINATION when I was a child. One recurring dream I had was that our house was full of water and I could swim all around in it like a big aquarium. Now, I am sure there are all kinds of interpretations of this, but for me…it sparked this lovely piece of prose. Enjoy!

Water Bubbles Under the Sea

Of Water and Other Dreamy Things

 

          I used to dream of water. Not the kind of water that winds down hills, shifting itself, a great endless slinky stepping across land to a vast and hungry sea, but a strange, floating, weightless water that filled our tiny house from wall to wall, window to door, toy box to floor. Iridescent blue, glowing, breathing, holding great bouncing bubbles in its belly, it welcomed me. Moonlight crept in the windows, wrapped its arms around each bubble, and danced a quiet waltz down my arms, across my back, and into my floating brunette spirals.

          I swam from room to room. From my bedroom I swam, down the quiet hall past my brother’s room with the great clown walls, past my parents ’room with the drawers of pencils and paper and the gray flat table where Daddy drew lines that made buildings grow up, to our white-flushed simple bathroom. There I’d float before the mirror, a tiny princess. I’d brush my teeth and get ready for school; my jeans legs pulling on easily without the usual tug and jerk. Jeans weren’t heavy in liquid dream. Mom didn’t have to shove her arm up the pant legs to tuck in the extra length., knuckles scraping knobby bone. My sleeves hung like moss, a velvet hug on cool skin.

          I used to dream a lot of things and not always in my sleep. I used to hear monkeys in the woods. They sang to me as I sailed on wooden swing, feet stretched toward sky, waiting for the night to bring its firefly dreams. A crimson sky would yield once more while toads tucked themselves safely under stone.

          I used to dream. I was a magical child.

If you enjoyed this, please like and comment, and check out these prose pieces as well:

“Clarity,” Winner of the Arrowhead Awards Best Prose Work, 2004

Today~

Horizons

Doe Season in Mamma’s Kitchen ~ a poem about my childhood

145238553569292548old-painted-wood-background

Doe Season in Mamma’s Kitchen

 

Every week or so Daddy brings home a stiff-legged,
russet-colored doe and hangs her by her feet on my swing set.
Mamma blinks her eyes away and silently wipes
down the aged green countertops
with a dilapidated kitchen sponge.

He is careful with the knife in the afternoon sun,
b
lood mixing with sweat,
dripping from his elbows.
The dirt below is painted a muddy sienna
that stays for days.

We are careful where we step,
remembering the blood that had
drained from her nose.

Daddy works quickly.
I turn my eyes from the tongue, hanging there
f
at, limp, pink.
Mamma defrosts the freezer with hot water
that runs across the floor.
We mop it up quickly,
slip out of Daddy’s way as he carries each
veiny lump to the counter.

He washes them carefully.
They drop and slap loudly in the sink.
He wraps them, marks them,
arranges them in piles on the table.

Mamma prepares the flour and the skillet.

 

Christina Ward, 2019

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My childhood was a humble, but blessed one. I grew up in a family of 7: my parents, my 4 siblings and I, in a 2 bedroom, one bath “mill house.” My father was a deer hunter, as are most of the Uncles in my family. I remember gathering around them to hear their “deer stories” which were basically long, drawn-out tales of their hunting adventures. You will never meet a finer bunch of hard-working, nature-loving, down-to-earth men as these.

My final year of college I wrapped up a minor in English with a “concentration in writing” as there was no writing minor available to me, by taking a class in environmental writing. This class was designed for me. I was the only student. I began the words that would eventually become this poem while in that class. I wanted to pay tribute to the legacy of deer hunting and the genuine, deep love for the environment in my family.

A word about deer hunting and the environment: Due to habitat loss and fragmentation, would-be predators for deer (other species populations) have been forced into smaller areas as they retreat from areas they once roamed and hunted freely. Ecologically speaking, the numbers of prey species outnumber their respective predators. When the predators are removed, the populations of the species they would normally prey upon can reach unsustainable levels which could lead to too much competition for food and subsequently starvation, among a host of other issues. The US Fish & Widlife service and state Fish and Wildlife Services are crucial in monitoring population trends and setting hunting parameters which are then used to monitor key populations. The fees collected from hunters to maintain their hunting licenses also contribute to environmental conservation projects.

For more information:

US Fish and Wildlife: Hunting

Article on Hunting and Habitat Conservation

***Trophy hunting of big game  and endangered or threatened species, however, is another matter. I will offer NO argument in favor of that travesty.

Thank you so much for reading my poem. I understand this is a subject matter that can be difficult. I grew up very conflicted with my LOVE for deer (as equal a time my father spent hunting, we spent loaded up in the car driving at a snail’s pace through local state parks to look for, count and watch the deer) and my desire to understand why people would want to hunt them. I understood my father hunted and fed our family but as a child, it was still difficult to accept. I am grateful now to have a better understanding. Again, thank you for reading “Doe Season in Mamma’s Kitchen.”

Please see some of my other poetry on environmental issues, nature, and wildlife. Together we all play a very important role!

Hoppy-Toads in the Summer ~ a poem

Green Lacewing ~ a poem about these beneficial garden insects

Cornucopian Dream ~ a poem for my fellow Earth lovers